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PF2E Is this a fair review of PF2?

CapnZapp

Legend
Since the release of 5E, every publisher of a more complex and/or difficult game is about to find that out to their peril.

The appetite for games of 3E or 4E levels of complexity/difficulty just isn't there anymore.

ESPECIALLY on the GM/DM side of the table.

Add a rule that makes charbuild more intricate, fine. It likely affects one player, and its her choice to pick something that must be actively remembered during play.

But it's no coincidence monsters are vastly easier to run in both current games.

One significant difference between PF2 and 5E is that Paizo filled their game with lots of niggly little subsystems (lots of rolls, lots of small modifiers, lots of decision points) the GM can't easily ignore or downplay.

I'll elaborate on demand.

Pathfinder 2 comes across as a game written by people who completely and totally missed the why and how of 5th Edition and its success.

It's a game designed to compete against 3E (=PF1) and 4E. I'd say it is successful at this. But that is sadly irrelevant unless you wind back the clock five years or so...
 
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willrali

Explorer
Since the release of 5E, every publisher of a more complex and/or difficult game is about to find that out to their peril.

The appetite for games of 3E or 4E levels of complexity/difficulty just isn't there anymore.

ESPECIALLY on the GM/DM side of the table.

Add a rule that makes charbuild more intricate, fine. It likely affects one player, and its her choice to pick something that must be actively remembered during play.

But it's no coincidence monsters are vastly easier to run in both current games.

One significant difference between PF2 and 5E is that Paizo filled their game with lots of niggly little subsystems (lots of rolls, lots of small modifiers, lots of decision points) the GM can't easily ignore or downplay.

I'll elaborate on demand.

Pathfinder 2 comes across as a game written by people who completely and totally missed the why and how of 5th Edition and its success.

It's a game designed to compete against 3E (=PF1) and 4E. I'd say it is successful at this. But that is sadly irrelevant unless you wind back the clock five years or so...

I'm not a hundred percent convinced about this. The thing that makes 5e easy to access for time-poor gamers is that it's fundamentally devoid of complexity. People outgrow it. It took me about a year before I'd completely exhausted 5e and decided I was done with it.

The question is whether P2 is the natural next step for those seeking options. That is, it's never going to compete in any real sense against 5e (nothing truly competes against D&D in the rpg space), but it needs to be the landing place for the 'moving on' crowd. Waiting to see whether it succeeds in this.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Pathfinder 2 comes across as a game written by people who completely and totally missed the why and how of 5th Edition and its success.
I think that Pathfinder 2 comes across as a game written by people who enjoy different things than you do for people who enjoy different things than you do. And not everyone out there, believe it or not, wants to play 5e.

As an aside, @CapnZapp, have you ever played (or have much familiarity with) either Shadow of the Demon Lord or the Cypher System?
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I'm not a hundred percent convinced about this. The thing that makes 5e easy to access for time-poor gamers is that it's fundamentally devoid of complexity. People outgrow it. It took me about a year before I'd completely exhausted 5e and decided I was done with it.
Well, I've played 3E, 4E, 5E and PF2, and I'm pretty certain PF2 will never be able to take the "advanced" slot - it's simply too much of a throw-back to 3E and 4E.

I too find 5E lacking. What I want is 5E but with more options. An Advanced Dungeons & Dragons if you will.

Paizo should have aimed for exactly the spot which now (five years later) is still open, allowing EN Publishing to step in.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I think that Pathfinder 2 comes across as a game written by people who enjoy different things than you do for people who enjoy different things than you do.
That's not good enough, I'm afraid. I think the segment of the market that enjoys what PF2 is offering is small. More importantly: I think 5E has shown the gamers brought up between 2000-2015 that most of the clutter of 3E and 4E is just that. Clutter.

I believe Paizo could have gained a much larger market share if their game had exhibited any indications its team had studied and learned from 5E.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
As an aside, CapnZapp, have you ever played (or have much familiarity with) either Shadow of the Demon Lord or the Cypher System?
Numenera: I've only very briefly glanced at the Cyber system. I mostly found it alien and strange, solving problems I didn't knew needed solving.
SotDL: To be honest, between Call of Cthulhu and WFRP, I haven't felt a need for a D&D-esque entry in this segment. Plus I'm not too hot on Schwalb's style (which goes back to when he worked for Green Ronin on WFRP2).

I'm not saying either system is bad, just that I haven't felt a need to check out either. And to keep being honest, I'm not having much faith in anyone except Paizo and WotC being able to create a well-calibrated system. So many systems... what can men do against all these systems that fall apart once you use your minmax stick to prod the internals and/or give your characters considerable experience/levels...?
 

Retreater

Legend
Last night, we had our first session back to PF2 after a few missed sessions due to scheduling problems. The 5 characters are 8th level, and we're playing through the second chapter in the Age of Ashes Adventure Path. They were exploring a dungeon, and we got through 4 encounters in 3.5 hours - with just a few minutes for anything else between the fights (healing up, discussing options). It is a little faster than 4E - about twice the speed. But if you don't want a 45 minute or so encounter, it might not be the system for you.
But what it is - you can have a solo monster challenge a party unlike anything you've seen in 5e. An advanced hellhound had the party scared they were going to TPK - and they nearly did. I haven't had a single monster, regardless of level, put that kind of fear and challenge to a party. This was just a regular encounter in Pathfinder 2.
 

Aldarc

Legend
That's not good enough, I'm afraid. I think the segment of the market that enjoys what PF2 is offering is small. More importantly: I think 5E has shown the gamers brought up between 2000-2015 that most of the clutter of 3E and 4E is just that. Clutter.

I believe Paizo could have gained a much larger market share if their game had exhibited any indications its team had studied and learned from 5E.
You tend to think and say a lot of things that support your confirmation bias-based agendas. But once you get some perspective outside of your one-track mind about how Paizo should have made your dream fantasy heartbreaker, you can see that not everyone wants the same game that you want. But I also think that you need to "let go" the idea of chasing the market leader and accept the fact that Paizo made a game that they and their target audience would enjoy. Not every company out there should design D&D heartbreakers that emulate 5e. It's a path that leads only to a dull and sanitized market.

Numenera: I've only very briefly glanced at the Cyber system. I mostly found it alien and strange, solving problems I didn't knew needed solving.
SotDL: To be honest, between Call of Cthulhu and WFRP, I haven't felt a need for a D&D-esque entry in this segment. Plus I'm not too hot on Schwalb's style (which goes back to when he worked for Green Ronin on WFRP2).
So is every system to you just a matter of D&D problems to be solved and a failure to lick 5e's love pump? I thought you may be interested in either of these systems to see how they approach designs, since both systems were designed by people who worked on D&D Next. You may learn something.

I'm not saying either system is bad, just that I haven't felt a need to check out either. And to keep being honest, I'm not having much faith in anyone except Paizo and WotC being able to create a well-calibrated system. So many systems... what can men do against all these systems that fall apart once you use your minmax stick to prod the internals and/or give your characters considerable experience/levels...?
Have you tried having playing them for fun as they were meant to be played?
 

CapnZapp

Legend
You tend to think and say a lot of things that support your confirmation bias-based agendas.
I tend to think and say what I believe in. Isn't that the purpose of a discussion forum?

You might not be aware of it, but what you're doing is effectively trying to bring down the level of discourse to an accusatory, personal level. I will simply not respond to that other than to as cheerfully as I'm able to ask you: If all you can do is accuse me of having an agenda (a "bias-based" one at that) maybe it's time to reconsider my arguments. Maybe they hold a grain of truth?

But once you get some perspective outside of your one-track mind about how Paizo should have made your dream fantasy heartbreaker, you can see that not everyone wants the same game that you want. But I also think that you need to "let go" the idea of chasing the market leader and accept the fact that Paizo made a game that they and their target audience would enjoy. Not every company out there should design D&D heartbreakers that emulate 5e. It's a path that leads only to a dull and sanitized market.
No, "do it more like 5E" isn't shorthand for "I hate diversity in gaming mechanisms".

It's shorthand for "5E is a really good product with really good implementations of many issues that have plagued D&D for decades"

I think Paizo made a mistake in misreading the market. 5E fundamentally changed the market. The market is no longer nearly as receptive to games of 3E/4E levels of complexity as Paizo clearly assumes, something they could have realized if they opened up their development process to what their competitor has been doing for the last five years.

Have you tried having playing them for fun as they were meant to be played?
I have played lots of systems and read up on countless more.

While I thank you for your suggestions (the SotDL one is especially on point) I hope we can agree it's hardly a fatal flaw not to have experience with precisely these two.

Now you'll have to excuse me but I want to return back to discussing the game :)
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Bringing back the discussion to Pathfinder 2, yes, I'm trying to play the game as I believe it was intended to be played.

But in some areas I'm failing miserably. When I do I call those out, because I don't think I'm especially bad at gaming. I think the alternative explanation - that those subsystems aren't good - is more plausible. But I leave that up to each reader.

In order for the readers to do that I must first not hold my tongue.

Instead I am trying my best to fearlessly explain my experience with the system, so that possible deficiences aren't swept under the rug.

Specifically:
1) first off, the need for a second round of errata is now excruciating. Please Paizo take an official stance on several issues that have plagued the community for months. (Just sort the Rules subforum of Paizo PF2 forums on "threads with the most replies" and you'll get a very good idea of what those issues are)

2) Recall Knowledge. Specifically using it to gain info about monster weaknesses and such. As far as I understand, this action is meant to have a real impact on gameplay. However, making it an action (thus making the cost of "1 action" significant) makes no sense if you can just think about this at home (or anywhere else where the cost of "1 action" is insignificant). So I'm assuming it's to be used in Encounter Mode. But there the cost is exorbitant! Having a ~50% chance of learning a single piece of information is way WAY too costly, especially compared to the alternative - just attacking and seeing what works!

More generally, I find this to pick apart what otherwise is a fairly natural information transfer, chopping it up in ridiculously small and discrete chunks. Was this really a problem with other games that needed such a detailed solution? Hell no! GMs have solved this issue in every other iteration of D&D with no need of help, and especially not this kind of incredibly mechanistic and cluttery help.

Not only that, the rules seem to expect the GM to be able to come up with good info nuggets on the spot. Personally I consider a feat like True Hypercognition truly preposterous in every way. I cannot even begin to understand how to use this in actual play, and the rulebook is utterly silent on advice.

A recall knowledge subsystem of this complexity should have been relegated to a supplement, with something much simpler in the CRB.

3) Crafting. Okay so the idea is simply "the only real benefit of crafting should be access to items even when there's no magic shoppe". But the subsystem is incredibly overwrought and complicated. The only reason as I can see is for complexity's sake. That is, if you like to tinker for tinkering's sake. But the details steal play time, and make the results so difficult to predict that even to this day there are plenty of gamers that believe you can save money using Crafting. (Hint: you can't, you can only gain money relative to your friends, which definitely is not the same thing)

A crafting subsystem of this complexity should have been relegated to a supplement, with something much simpler in the CRB.

4) Medicine. Somebody should have killed a lot of darlings here. The game is clearly predicated on the assumption every encounter is started at full health or close to it. Going into an encounter at 50% hp is toying with death (at least given the difficulty of official adventure paths). If you have 100 hp there's no reason to worry if you're five or ten short, but if you only have 40 or 60? Then you stop and rest for a number of ten-minute periods before proceeding, it's that simple.

Not only is Medicine incredibly complicated - it's a minigame in itself.

But it jives badly with what I understand to be another expectation of the game: that your choice of (10-minute) activities is supposed to be an interesting aspect of between-fights, with meaningful decisions. In order for that to happen, the number of such activities need to be between 1 and 3. For instance, you can have 1 or 3 focus points. If you rest for 60 minutes, you have six such 10-minute periods, and everything about having to make choices and decisions fall away, since you can simply say "I'll do everything".

But Medicine isn't powerful enough to bring you back up to health in merely 1-3 periods. After a moderate fight, the party can find that more than one hero were downed, and is now at minimal hp. To bring back everybody to full health without spending resources (potions, spell slots...) we quickly found that you need to rest for maybe 40-80 minutes!

I believe that session time is best spent on adventuring. On encounters - including exploratory and social, not just combat. I believe session time spent on "between encounters" is essentially wasted time.

The rules make you spend too much time on between encounters, asking you to choose between DCs, keeping track of who is immune to what Medicine check, and lots more useless clutter. And for what? Healing STILL takes too much time for the "choose your activity" minigame! Having to rest up for half an hour to one hour after nearly every fight also throws a wrench in the flow of time whenever you assault a dungeon. That other monsters just sit on their hands for 10 minutes per fight is much easier to accept than they doing nothing for hours on end.

But the most scathing criticism against the current system is that the following would have been much simpler and faster, and made much more sense both given the in-game world and the other mechanics of the game:

Each time you take a 10-minute rest, you heal one third of your hp while you take an activity.

Note how this draws the same conclusion the devs did correctly draw when it comes to Perception. "We note that Perception is so valuable we're not going to make it a choice where a player can end up without it". The same goes for Medicine - it's that powerful!

This would also accomplish the other goals of the game design better. It would drastically cut back on time wasted by players on administering Medicine. And most importantly: it would have meant the developers actually looked at what players want in the age of 5th Edition!

A healing subsystem of this complexity should have been relegated to a supplement, with something much simpler in the CRB.

5) Talismans

As a player you're asked to do a lot of admin for very little payoff.

This is exactly the kind of magic item design that I hated in 4E: highly conditional requirements; insultingly small benefits. People aren't computers, and asking players to remember highly specific conditions for a minimal bonus is something that should only happen in video games, where the player can trust the game to track it for him or her.

Unfortunately almost every magic item in PF2 (with the notable exception of fundamental weapon runes etc) is very far from what makes magic items fun and wondrous.

3E, PF1 and 5E all offer a far superior "magic item experience" to 4E and PF2.

But the section on Talismans is especially egregious. Frankly, the rulebook would have been plain better off if Talismans were ripped right out of the CRB.

6, 7, 8...) There's plenty more of misfires in the PF2 rules but I think I've made my point already.

The crude and clumsy Incapacitation trait, inflexible skill increases and saving throw upgrades, too-nerfed low level magic, strangely low utilization of precious materials, ... the list goes on.

Does this mean PF2 is atrocious and 5E is perfect?

No.

I'm playing (=GMing) PF2, not 5E.

It just means that just because you like a game doesn't mean you have to somehow overlook its deficiencies.

In fact, if I hadn't liked PF2, I wouldn't have bothered critiquing it.

Yes, that means that the more I like a game, the more likely it is I want it to be perfect, and the more likely it is that you can read me pointing out what's bad about it. If I say nothing of a game, that isn't likely to mean it's perfect. Quite the contrary, it likely means it's not good enough to catch my interest.

Zapp

PS. Maybe reading this helps you evaluate the thread's topic "was that a fair review?"

Let's first remember a review can hardly go in-depth to a degree that requires having played the system for extensive periods of time. You get to decide which of the above issues that are important to you, and whether you feel the reviewer should have caught them and brought them up.
 
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Aldarc

Legend
I think Paizo made a mistake in misreading the market. 5E fundamentally changed the market. The market is no longer nearly as receptive to games of 3E/4E levels of complexity as Paizo clearly assumes, something they could have realized if they opened up their development process to what their competitor has been doing for the last five years.
I will not place a value judgment about whether or not Paizo misread the market as this comes with a lot of built-in assumptions. From an anecdotal perspective, Der Schwarze Auge is big in Germany and Austria, and it's definitely crunchier than 5e. In my five years here, I have played with a number of groups here who flat out prefer PF1 to 5e.

While I agree that the market is not as receptive to games of 3E/4E levels as it once was, I'm not sure if I would say that this was something mostly 5e related. This move towards more streamlined, simplified systems was already well underway by that point, as seen in my discussion on d2010 games on another thread. The OSR and Indie gaming scene were already pushing this. Mearls, for example, has cited Dungeon World (2012) as an important work leading up to 5e. And DW is FAR SIMPLER and EASIER for newcomers to the hobby than D&D IME.

While I thank you for your suggestions (the SotDL one is especially on point) I hope we can agree it's hardly a fatal flaw not to have experience with precisely these two.
Keep in mind that SotDL is not written as a game meant to be "how I would fix D&D," but more as a game where Schwalb features some of his own mechanical preferences (e.g., bane/boon) and as a love letter for Warhammer fantasy. You may like how it approaches modular classes. Considering your play experiences and insights with WFRPG, PF2, and 5e D&D, I would be interested in hearing any first impressions or play experiences with SotDL as well. But Schwalb is presently working on a less dark and body horror version of SotDL meant to be a love letter to Greyhawk and more D&D-style fantasy: i.e., Shadow of the Weird Wizard.
 
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Malkinban

The Torn
1) first off, the need for a second round of errata is now excruciating. Please Paizo take an official stance on several issues that have plagued the community for months. (Just sort the Rules subforum of Paizo PF2 forums on "threads with the most replies" and you'll get a very good idea of what those issues are)

I completely agree with this.


2) Recall Knowledge. Specifically using it to gain info about monster weaknesses and such. As far as I understand, this action is meant to have a real impact on gameplay. However, making it an action (thus making the cost of "1 action" significant) makes no sense if you can just think about this at home (or anywhere else where the cost of "1 action" is insignificant). So I'm assuming it's to be used in Encounter Mode. But there the cost is exorbitant! Having a ~50% chance of learning a single piece of information is way WAY too costly, especially compared to the alternative - just attacking and seeing what works!

I get what you are saying here, but then we are talking about metagaming (at home) vs play. I think the cost if fair. If you want to throw something at the metaphorical wall and see what sticks then that it OK too. I see more as a way for a character to support the party by spending some time trying to figure out what the heck they are even looking at.


More generally, I find this to pick apart what otherwise is a fairly natural information transfer, chopping it up in ridiculously small and discrete chunks. Was this really a problem with other games that needed such a detailed solution? Hell no! GMs have solved this issue in every other iteration of D&D with no need of help, and especially not this kind of incredibly mechanistic and cluttery help.

Not only that, the rules seem to expect the GM to be able to come up with good info nuggets on the spot. Personally I consider a feat like True Hypercognition truly preposterous in every way. I cannot even begin to understand how to use this in actual play, and the rulebook is utterly silent on advice.

A recall knowledge subsystem of this complexity should have been relegated to a supplement, with something much simpler in the CRB.

I don't really see what the issue is. My players have always learned additional information through checks etc.

3) Crafting. Okay so the idea is simply "the only real benefit of crafting should be access to items even when there's no magic shoppe". But the subsystem is incredibly overwrought and complicated. The only reason as I can see is for complexity's sake. That is, if you like to tinker for tinkering's sake. But the details steal play time, and make the results so difficult to predict that even to this day there are plenty of gamers that believe you can save money using Crafting. (Hint: you can't, you can only gain money relative to your friends, which definitely is not the same thing)

A crafting subsystem of this complexity should have been relegated to a supplement, with something much simpler in the CRB.

I think this comes down to taste, in terms of the complexity, more than anything else. You can easily change it so there is a more open economy regarding crafting.

4) Medicine. Somebody should have killed a lot of darlings here. The game is clearly predicated on the assumption every encounter is started at full health or close to it. Going into an encounter at 50% hp is toying with death (at least given the difficulty of official adventure paths). If you have 100 hp there's no reason to worry if you're five or ten short, but if you only have 40 or 60? Then you stop and rest for a number of ten-minute periods before proceeding, it's that simple.

Not only is Medicine incredibly complicated - it's a minigame in itself.

But it jives badly with what I understand to be another expectation of the game: that your choice of (10-minute) activities is supposed to be an interesting aspect of between-fights, with meaningful decisions. In order for that to happen, the number of such activities need to be between 1 and 3. For instance, you can have 1 or 3 focus points. If you rest for 60 minutes, you have six such 10-minute periods, and everything about having to make choices and decisions fall away, since you can simply say "I'll do everything".

But Medicine isn't powerful enough to bring you back up to health in merely 1-3 periods. After a moderate fight, the party can find that more than one hero were downed, and is now at minimal hp. To bring back everybody to full health without spending resources (potions, spell slots...) we quickly found that you need to rest for maybe 40-80 minutes!

I believe that session time is best spent on adventuring. On encounters - including exploratory and social, not just combat. I believe session time spent on "between encounters" is essentially wasted time.

The rules make you spend too much time on between encounters, asking you to choose between DCs, keeping track of who is immune to what Medicine check, and lots more useless clutter. And for what? Healing STILL takes too much time for the "choose your activity" minigame! Having to rest up for half an hour to one hour after nearly every fight also throws a wrench in the flow of time whenever you assault a dungeon. That other monsters just sit on their hands for 10 minutes per fight is much easier to accept than they doing nothing for hours on end.

But the most scathing criticism against the current system is that the following would have been much simpler and faster, and made much more sense both given the in-game world and the other mechanics of the game:

Each time you take a 10-minute rest, you heal one third of your hp while you take an activity.

Note how this draws the same conclusion the devs did correctly draw when it comes to Perception. "We note that Perception is so valuable we're not going to make it a choice where a player can end up without it". The same goes for Medicine - it's that powerful!

This would also accomplish the other goals of the game design better. It would drastically cut back on time wasted by players on administering Medicine. And most importantly: it would have meant the developers actually looked at what players want in the age of 5th Edition!

A healing subsystem of this complexity should have been relegated to a supplement, with something much simpler in the CRB.


I don't think the healing system is terrible, but I agree that I could easily do without it and use something simpler.

5) Talismans

As a player you're asked to do a lot of admin for very little payoff.

This is exactly the kind of magic item design that I hated in 4E: highly conditional requirements; insultingly small benefits. People aren't computers, and asking players to remember highly specific conditions for a minimal bonus is something that should only happen in video games, where the player can trust the game to track it for him or her.

I think Talismans are dumb. I'm right there with you, to be honest. When I read about them I told myself, "Well, there is something I'm never going to use."

Unfortunately almost every magic item in PF2 (with the notable exception of fundamental weapon runes etc) is very far from what makes magic items fun and wondrous.

I quoted this separately because PF2 magic items are pretty fun and wondrous to me, and I can easily add more off the wall items just like I could in 5E. All a matter of taste.

The crude and clumsy Incapacitation trait, inflexible skill increases and saving throw upgrades, too-nerfed low level magic, strangely low utilization of precious materials, ... the list goes on.

Presses the "Would You Like to Know More?" button.
 

FrozenNorth

Adventurer
First, a note : My experience was with a large group (6 players) playing over VTT, low level module (Plaguestone 1-4). I played a wizard.

[Recall Knowledge checks]
I get what you are saying here, but then we are talking about metagaming (at home) vs play. I think the cost if fair. If you want to throw something at the metaphorical wall and see what sticks then that it OK too. I see more as a way for a character to support the party by spending some time trying to figure out what the heck they are even looking at.

I don't really see what the issue is. My players have always learned additional information through checks etc.

My experience as a wizard in this respect was pretty negative. Already, I felt that my very limited spells (which had to be loaded in advance) and each required two actions to deploy seemed very weak compared to the martial characters’ options.

The fact that I had to rely on succeeding Recall Knowledge checks (at the cost of 1 action each when I was already action-starved) seemed like adding insult to injury.

I don't think the healing system is terrible, but I agree that I could easily do without it and use something simpler.
I found that after a battle, we would spend 40 minutes out of game on healing (and about 80 minutes in game). We were playing 5 hours every two weeks, so this did not feel like a productive use of game time.
 


Haffrung

Adventurer
How is it "considerably" more complicated? What is it that you find so complicated in pf2 to describe the entire game as so much more complicated than 5e?
  • The interaction between perception, stealth, avoid notice, hide, sneak, concealed, observed, hidden, and undetected requires a flowchart to work out
  • The dozens of actions and action types, which skills they use, and when they can be used.
  • Weapon traits.
  • Item runes.
  • The dozens of conditions.
  • Afflictions and the stages of afflictions.

All of these either don’t exist in 5e, or are much simpler.
 
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Teemu

Adventurer
I'm more than likely wrong, but isn't using a skill in 5e to identify a monster a standard action?
5e doesn't have any rules for identifying monsters. The DM can let the players roll whatever they feel is necessary of course.

In Tomb of Annihilation the player characters can purchase a book that gives information on the creatures of Chult. It's essentially a binary yes-or-no situation: if you have the book, you know about the monsters; if you don't have the book, you don't know what the monsters are.

In 3.5 knowledge checks are not an action at all. The same in 4e. In both you would just roll at the start to see if you know what the creature is. PF1 is the game that made creature knowledge checks more restrictive, and PF2 further expanded on that.
 

Nilbog

Snotling Herder
5e doesn't have any rules for identifying monsters. The DM can let the players roll whatever they feel is necessary of course.

In Tomb of Annihilation the player characters can purchase a book that gives information on the creatures of Chult. It's essentially a binary yes-or-no situation: if you have the book, you know about the monsters; if you don't have the book, you don't know what the monsters are.

In 3.5 knowledge checks are not an action at all. The same in 4e. In both you would just roll at the start to see if you know what the creature is. PF1 is the game that made creature knowledge checks more restrictive, and PF2 further expanded on that.

Hmmmm I'm not sure that no rule is a better solution than using an action, in the 5e games I've played in the DM has insisted its an action (obviously with exceptions), which i think is a fair shout.
 

Malkinban

The Torn
First, a note : My experience was with a large group (6 players) playing over VTT, low level module (Plaguestone 1-4). I played a wizard.

[Recall Knowledge checks]


My experience as a wizard in this respect was pretty negative. Already, I felt that my very limited spells (which had to be loaded in advance) and each required two actions to deploy seemed very weak compared to the martial characters’ options.

The fact that I had to rely on succeeding Recall Knowledge checks (at the cost of 1 action each when I was already action-starved) seemed like adding insult to injury.

That's fair. I don't want to invalidate your experience. The players who have used it in the group I am playing with haven't seen to much of an issue with burning the action to learn some important information, especially since they usually aren't moving all the time anyway.

I found that after a battle, we would spend 40 minutes out of game on healing (and about 80 minutes in game). We were playing 5 hours every two weeks, so this did not feel like a productive use of game time.

I certainly don't want to give the impression that I love where PF2 healing went as a system, it definitely has its issues that I would like to see addressed. My group, admittedly low level, has never spent THAT much play time on out of combat healing though.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I don't really see what the issue is. My players have always learned additional information through checks etc.
I have no problems whatsoever with "it's a check". That you're given check DCs is good. That different monsters use different skills is great.

But codifying when and how you get to make these checks is a complete failure.

If they just said "use these skills and these checks" that'd be fine.

But they could not resist making it an action to use in the three-action system. And then adding lots of niggly little feats and even spells (and a whole class!) that grant you extra such checks. This is an entirely unnecessary layer. And frankly, an unwelcome one.

You can even read the rules to not allow sitting back home reading up on monsters! (The Recall Knowledge check is an action. You take actions in Encounter Mode.)

First off, encounters are won or lost in maybe three combat rounds. Spending an action to gain one nugget of information is bad enough, but remember: you likely have less than 50% chance of success on Recall Knowledge. Why? Because it's when the monster is higher level than you the situation is dangerous, and it is when the monster is higher level than you that knowing weaknesses and resistances is critical!

Spending one action to learn something, failing, and then spending one or two more actions... and still learning nothing is plain bad game design. It's frustrating, random and unfun.

Then, asking the GM to come up with these nuggets in the blink of an eye is unreasonable. No GM knows every monster by heart! (And don't get me started on the rulebook insisting you come up with false info on a critical failure. You tell me how fun you feel it is when the rules tell you to improvise on the spot!)

Then you have the borderline incomprehensible feats, where you ask yourself - is it supposed to be impossible to use Recall Knowledge in these situations if you don't have the feat. But if you don't need the feat, what is the feat for?!

I'm getting the impression this info juggling was meant to be an important and interesting subsystem... but we only get half of it, and not the other half, to govern what nuggets to give out.

And even that doesn't answer a big concern of mine. Nobody wants to remember which character knows what metagame info about what creatures. By that I mean the system completely fails to take into account the simple fact that as you play the game, you learn and remember how common monsters work. Asking a player to keep wasting valuable combat actions on stuff he or she already knows is just plain unworkable.

And even that doesn't answer my biggest concern...

I don't want to.

What I want, is for characters to use library research and the like, and me then reading something coherent and atmospheric. The monster's entire description. Lore from Pathfinder wiki! That sort of info. But I want to do this when everything's calm and quiet - when the players are able to focus on the storytelling.

I don't want to machine-gun random snippets of info at them during combat.

And if we're talking machine-gunning info, don't get me started on the feats and spells. What am supposed to do with "I'm using this feat or casting this spell. Now let me do five Recall Knowledge checks in a single action... okay, four successes, what do I learn?"

Recalling information is not a casino game.

5e doesn't have any rules for identifying monsters. The DM can let the players roll whatever they feel is necessary of course.

In 3.5 knowledge checks are not an action at all. The same in 4e. In both you would just roll at the start to see if you know what the creature is.
Yep. And there's nothing broken here that PF2 needed to fix.

But fix it they did, but only by adding a whole garbage heap of unwanted stuff. Look at the above - I have so many questions! And worst of all, I know I don't need any of it to successfully GM!

So let me reiterate:

A recall knowledge subsystem of this complexity should have been relegated to a supplement, with something much simpler in the CRB.

My personal preference would be for the rulebook to say this and only this:

Recall Knowledge is the way you justify your character knowing about a monster - its habits, strengths, and weaknesses. The Games Master decides when and where you can use this activity. The GM also decides if you learn something automatically, or if you need to succeed at a Recall Knowledge check.

If and when you're asked to make a Recall Knowledge check, the GM sets the check DC. Most often, based on the monster's level. The monster's type determines which skill or skills to use. [Insert table 10-7 here]

When you stumble upon a monster, some GMs will tell you what you want to know for free. Others will ask for a monster knowledge check, and base the amount of information on your result. Yet other GMs will have you rely on trial and error, unless you come prepared (studying monster books back at the inn, or visiting dusty libraries...)

Some GMs might even want to codify your RK usage - asking you to spend an action for each single nugget of info. See the variant rule in the GMG for one possible mechanism.


There are no feats or spells related to Recall Knowledge in the CRB in my scenario. They're all printed next to the Recall Knowledge variant of the GMG (or wherever).

I hope that answers your question ("I don't really see what the issue is.") :)
 
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Teemu

Adventurer
I think the reason why Paizo restricted creature knowledge checks in the first place (from 3.5 to PF1) was to reduce rolling. In 3.5 anyone who’s trained in the relevant skill could know something useful, so if you have 3 new monsters in an encounter, you could technically have 3 PCs each make 3 knowledge checks when initiative is rolled. That’s 9 checks before anyone’s turn, plus the DM having to check what exactly the characters would know. Thus, by making this an action with an opportunity cost you reduce the amount of rolling and theoretically speed things up.
 

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